In September 1985, two Muncie, Indiana, teenagers were shot and killed in their car while parked in the popular Westside Park. The murders stunned Muncie families because the victims were well-liked students at Muncie Northside High School. Kimberly Dowell and Ethan Dixon were found late at night by the police officer who was clearing out the park at closing time. Their car was still running, with one window down and the other shattered by gunfire.
Join us at the quiet end for The Westside Park Murders. From the very beginning, investigators were inundated with possible suspects, from family members to serial killers. Suggested motives ranged from a random killing, to a family dispute, to a drug deal gone wrong. Although many leads have been investigated over the years, this remains a cold case and an enduring mystery.
Muncie crime: 150 years of murders, mysteries, Star Press, by Douglas Walker, 3/20/2015
Probe Centers on Two Cars, Muncie Star, by Diana Newlin, 10/03/1985
Sketch of suspect by an uncredited police department sketch artist, Muncie Evening Press, 10/07/1985
Star Press articles, by Keith Roysdon & Douglas Walker, 2010-2015
The Westside Park Murders: Muncie’s Most Notorious Cold Case, by Keith Roysdon & Douglas Walker, 2021
The Westside Park Murders: Muncie’s Most Notorious Cold Case, Virtual Talk with Keith Roysdon, Muncie Public Library, Interview by Sara McKinley, Local History & Genealogy Supervisor, 3/25/2021
Jassi Kaur Sidhu was born into a family where women are second class citizens, men are in charge of family honor, and women are blamed if they do anything to tarnish it.
Her birth wasn’t officially registered by her parents until she was over a year old because her parents were much more focused on her brother. Jassi’s mother, Malkiat Kaur, and father, Bakhtaur Singh, were part of a group who moved from the Punjab’s Doaba region of India to the Canadian West Coast. They settled in the Fraser Valley and began farming.
Jassi’s uncle, Surjit Singh Badesha, was the undisputed head of the family. He decided that the family would pool their resources to buy about nine acres of land and operate a blueberry farm. It was a success and they made millions of dollars.
As she grew up, Jassi’s life was simple and revolved around school, prayers and household chores. She was to be auctioned off to the highest bidder for marriage.
But Jassi fell in love with a Kabaddi player and sometime rickshaw driver. They married secretly and when the family found out, they hired hitmen.
Join us at the quiet end for the case of the honor killing of Jassi Sidhu. Her only crime was love and her punishment was a brutal death.
Suspicions turned to college student Christopher Porco soon after his parents, Peter and Joan Porco, were attacked with an ax in the middle of the night back in 2004. It seemed unimaginable. Christopher came from a stable, middle-class family. He did well in high school, scoring 1400 on his SATs. But Christopher had dark secrets.
Once Christopher was in college, he created a false image of himself as a trust fund kid, buying rounds of drinks for his friends, designer clothes, and a customized jeep. He financed this lifestyle with thefts and forged student loans.
But Christopher was failing his classes and his lies were catching up with him. Once Peter and Joan learned that Christopher had forged his father’s name on a $30,000 loan, they were shocked and angered. Both parents attempted to reason with him, but things had already gone too far. When Peter failed to show up for work one Monday in November, he was found dead of massive head injuries inside his home. Joan was still alive, but barely.
The case against Christopher Porco was circumstantial but strong. Today at the quiet end, we’re talking about a brutal murder and attempted murder planned and perpetrated by a most unlikely suspect. At the heart of this case is the love of a mother for her son and the power of denial.
In February 2008, Shannon Louise Matthews, a nine-year-old girl, was reported missing in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England. The search for her became a major missing person police investigation which was compared to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The women in Shannon’s neighborhood put their lives on hold in order to search for Shannon.
Unlike Madeleine McCann, Shannon grew up in a working- class neighborhood. Her mother Karen did not work and she had several children from several different fathers. The local people were harshly judged in the media, but the way they pulled together was actually quite remarkable and admirable.
What investigators discovered in this case shocked and outraged the community. The adults in Shannon’s life, her mother included, would be exposed as immoral, exploiting Shannon for the possibility of monetary gain. As the facts of the case surfaced, a sense of betrayal fell over Dewsbury, leaving Shannon’s neighbors confused and questioning how anyone could treat a child as Shannon had been treated.
When Megan McAllister met Philip Markoff she thought she had met her prince charming. Philip was attractive, in a non-threatening way, highly intelligent, and a perfect gentleman. He was a medical student at Boston University and headed for an ambitious future. Megan had her own ambitions. She was graduating college and hoped to start med school soon. When Philip proposed to Megan, she was thrilled. She took Philip to meet her parents and he won them over, golfing with her dad and complimenting her mother.
Julissa Brisman was 25-years old when she met Philip Markoff. The man she met was very different from Megan’s Philip. He beat her and shot her to death in a Boston hotel room.
Later labelled the Craigslist Killer, the real Philip Markoff was a predator. He targeted young women who placed ads for massages and escort services, robbing and hurting them to support a gambling habit and the thrill he got from dominating women.
In The Crimes of Philip Markoff, we’re learning about a man who wasn’t what he appeared to be and how he was able to live a life of complete contradiction. His victims’ stories are of survival and of one life lost, from his mislead fiancee, to women in vulnerable positions, to a young woman cut down as she struggled to better herself.
n a cold, sunny morning in January 1957, Leonard Prescott, a 39-year old construction worker, was driving into the town of Willow Springs, Illinois, when he noticed two strange-looking objects underneath a bridge railing. He stopped to get a better look and told himself they must be department store mannequins. He drove off, but his mind kept returning to the flesh-colored figures. Were they naked, dead girls? He wasn’t entirely convinced, so he drove home and got his wife Marie. They returned to the bridge and got out of the car. The two bodies had a blue hue against the whiteness of the snow. One of the girls was on her side with her legs drawn up in a fetal position. The other girl was on her back, apparently tossed on top of her.
Marie screamed and began to sob uncontrollably. Shaken himself, Leonard helped his wife into the car and drove to the Willow Springs Police Station. A policeman accompanied Leonard back to the site. The girls looked like they were only in their early teens.
Joseph Grimes’ daughters Barbara,15, and Patricia, 13, had been missing for nearly a month. They were big Elvis Presley Fans and had gone together to see his film “Love Me Tender” on the night they disappeared, 3 days after Christmas.
Joseph was called to the station and escorted to the scene where he had the heartbreaking task of identifying his murdered daughters.
The heartbreaking disappearance and unexplained deaths of Barbara and Patricia Grimes shattered the innocence of the Chicago area forever. Things like this just hadn’t happened before. The case launched one of the biggest investigations in history. Over the years, there have been numerous leads but the case remains unsolved.
Today, we’re talking about an End to Innocence: The Abduction and Murders of the Grimes Sisters
Tina and Gabe Watson were married in Alabama in October 2003. After the wedding, they went honeymooning in Australia. Gabe, who was a certified diver and diving rescuer, wanted his new wife, Tina, to go diving with him. Tina had prepared to dive with her new husband, taking lessons and investing in expensive diving equipment.
Tina drowned while on a dive with Gabe, in Queensland, Austrailia, on October 22, just days into their honeymoon. Gabe returned to the surface to get help for his new wife, leaving her behind at the bottom of the ocean. Gabe's behavior and his reaction to Tina's death raised suspicions immediately. His story contradicted the record of actions stored in his dive computer. It was believed, with supporting evidence from the dive computer, that he turned off Tina's air supply and held her until she was unconscious. Then, he let her sink to the bottom as he resurfaced. Tina's father said his motive to kill was the insurance policy that Gabe had repeatedly asked Tina to increase the amount of and make Gabe the beneficiary.
Tina's murder was a tragedy in so many ways. She was young, vibrant, and just beginning her life as a newlywed. Her family wasn't exactly impressed with Gabe from the beginning of their relationship. They blamed Gabe for her death. To fully understand what happened to Tina that day, we have contacted expert Michael McFadyen who has studied the full transcript of the Coroner's Inquest into Tina's death as well as all the evidence available to the Alabama State prosecutor and the defense in the 2012 trial.
In today's True Crime Brewery, Underwater: The Mysterious Death of Tina Watson, we're learning about Tina's life, her relationship with Gabe Watson, the scuba diving incident that took her life, and the trials of Gabe Watson.
On November 13, 2010, while on their honeymoon in South Africa, newlywed couple Shrien and Anni Dewani, from Bristol, England, were kidnapped at gunpoint. Shrien was released unharmed about 20 minutes later. He found someone on the street and called for help. The next morning, Anni was found dead inside the back of the carjacked vehicle. She had been killed with a single gunshot to her neck.
Honeymoons are a time of celebration and a time for a newly married couple to spend time alone, undistracted from the burdens of everyday life. And Anni’s honeymoon started off that way. Shrien was wealthy, handsome, and fun-loving. Following an elaborate traditional wedding in India, the couple was staying at the 5-star Cape Grace Hotel.
Anni’s killers, including the couple’s tour guide, were arrested for her murder. The couple had been robbed, which was consistent with a random carjacking, but other questions arose. It was unusual that Shrien had been released and Anni had been killed, with the car left behind. And the neighborhood they were travelling in was suspect. When her killers pointed to Anni’s fiancé as the mastermind of a plot to murder Anni, an extended legal battle ensued.
Today at the quiet end we’re talking about a beautiful life cut short, possibly by the man who promised to love and honor her:
Carjacked: The Honeymoon Murder of Anni Dewani
26-year old George Smith disappeared from the cruise ship Brilliance of the Seas in July 2005 under suspicious circumstances. It should have been a fun, carefree evening. George and his wife Jennifer were on their honeymoon, having married just 11 days earlier. Sometime in the hours before dawn George Smith vanished, presumably fallen overboard into the dark Aegean sea. All that was found the next day was a disturbing, large bloodstain on a life-raft canopy beneath his balcony—just the first detail in a confusing set of clues, witnesses, and possible suspects. Was it an accident or murder?
Most believe that George Smith was the victim of foul play. The longer the case remains unsolved, the darker its undertones grow. Allegations of a Royal Caribbean “cover-up” was examined by journalists and public awareness was raised about the dangers lurking aboard cruise ships.
Another fact that raised some eyebrows was that Jennifer wasn’t with her new husband that night. She had been seen with another man and wound up passed out in another part of the ship.
Join us at the quiet end as we discuss the lives of George and Jennifer Smith, the events leading up to George’s disappearance, and the investigation. This is a true mystery: Overboard: The Disappearance of George Smith
This is Part 3 in our series on the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.
If you haven’t heard Part 1, Prelude to Murder, and Part 2, Murders in Brentwood, we recommend that you go back and listen to the episodes in order.
We begin this episode after OJ Simpson has been arrested for the murder of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown. He had his motorcade. Robert Shapiro and Robert Kardashian are on his side. The entire country has heard the 911 domestic violence calls made by Nicole. Now, because the prosecution had released these 911 calls to the public, they were not able to get a grand jury together who hadn’t heard these tapes. The grand jury was dismissed on the grounds that the grand jury could not be objective. So, in place of a grand jury, the court ordered a preliminary hearing. In the preliminary hearing, a judge would review the evidence and decide if the case should go to trial. This worked against the prosecution because they had to put out their case before they were ready. This was a tactical victory for the defense because they had access to all of the prosecution’s evidence early on.
Join us at the quiet end as we discuss legal techniques, clashes, and the verdict that rocked the nation.
Sugar Land is a peaceful, upper-class suburb southwest of Houston, Texas. But one quiet evening in December 2003, the community was shattered when a family of four was ambushed by an armed intruder as they entered their home. Tricia Whitaker and her son Kevin were murdered. Now, son and brother of the deceased, Bart Whitaker, is on death row, convicted of capital murder and sentenced to lethal injection for masterminding a plot to murder his parents and brother. His father has forgiven him and visits him often. But does Bart deserve his father's forgiveness? Does he feel any remorse? Join us at the quiet end for a discussion of the crime and the punishment of Bart Whitaker on this episode of True Crime Brewery--- Bad Seed: The Whitaker Family Murders.
Bill Kissel raised his two boys, Andrew and Robert, to be winners. There was an expectation for exceptional success from childhood. Success seemed to come easily to Robert, who also worked hard and followed the rules. To Andrew, it was more of a struggle. He began to to take shortcuts in life which may have contributed to his death.
Robert's murder would shock the world. Bludgeoned to death by his petite, pretty wife in a luxury Hong Kong apartment, Robert's bloody and decomposing corpse was discovered in a rug in the family's storage room. So, when Andrew was found murdered 3 years later, there was much speculation.
One of the most horrific and memorable true crime stories in recent history is the murder of 16 year old Sylvia Likens. There have been murders with more victims, murders committed by serial killers and hardened criminals. But most murders are carried out within a time span of hours or minutes.
Sylvia's torturous death took months. A teenager left to the care of a violent abuser has led to death in other cases, but in Sylvia's case she was not abused by only one person.
Sylvia was systematically tortured by her caregiver, by her caregiver's children, and by other children in the neighborhood. Other adults saw Sylvia's condition but no one helped her. Join us for a discussion of an inconceivable murder that occurred in the 1960s. But be forewarned: this is a case that will haunt you for some time to come.